What are Magic Mushrooms?
According to the Oxford definition, a magic mushroom is “any toadstool with hallucinogenic properties, especially the liberty cap and its relatives.” What causes the hallucinations in these mushrooms, you may ask? Great question- the answer is psilocybin or psilocin. Basically, the higher the amount of psilocybin the mushroom contains, the more extreme of a hallucinatory experience you will have. The experience can be a mix of auditory and visual hallucinations, and many who have shared details about their psychedelic experiences speak of seeing intense colours and geometric shapes and patterns. There are close to 200 different species of psilocybin mushrooms all over the world, each varying in appearance, texture, colour, shape, psilocybin concentration, and hallucinogenic effects. Some of the most popular ones include Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe semilanceata (Liberty Cap), Psilocybe azurescens (Flying Saucers), Psilocybe cyanescens (Wavy Caps), Copelandia panaeolus cyanescens (Blue Meanies), and the list goes on.
What is Psilocybin and Psilocin?
Psilocybin, also known as 3-[2-(dimethylamino)ethyl]-1H-indol-4-yl dihydrogen phosphate, is a hallucinogenic compound found in some types of mushrooms, such as the Mexican species Psilocybe mexicana and P. cubensis (formerly Stropharia cubensis). Psilocybin and a chemical molecule called psilocin, which is closely linked to psilocybin, are the active ingredients in P. mexicana and P. cubensis. In the 1950s, such substances were initially separated and researched. Similar to psilocin, psilocybin is an indole hallucinogen that changes how the indole amine neurotransmitter serotonin functions in the brain. Due to the presence of a phosphate group connected to the molecule at the oxygen atom, psilocybin differs from psilocin.
The hallucinogenic compound psilocin, also known as 4-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine, psilotsin, or psilocine, is present in several mushrooms, particularly the two Mexican species, Psilocybe mexicana and P. cubensis (formerly Stropharia cubensis). The hallucinogenic mushrooms employed in religious rituals by Mexico’s indigenous peoples were revered and known to the Aztecs as “god’s flesh.” The active ingredients are psilocin and psilocybin, which are chemically similar compounds, were extracted from Mexican mushrooms in the 1950s.
Although psilocin and psilocybin are not currently utilized in modern medicine, research indicates that they may have potential uses in the treatment of anxiety and in enhancing the quality of life for people who are terminally ill. The drugs have also been tested on people to learn more about how hallucinogens affect the brain and to look into different facets of psychosis, personality, and consciousness.
Psilocin is an indole hallucinogen in terms of chemistry. It works by changing the way serotonin, an indole amine neurotransmitter, behaves in the brain. The hallucinatory effects of psilocin and psilocybin are comparable to those of mescaline and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). Its effect lasts for several hours.
What is Psylocybe?
In the family Hymenogastraceae, the genus Psilocybe contains gilled mushrooms that are found all over the world. Psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin, three hallucinogenic substances, are present in the majority or virtually all species. Different varieties of hallucinogenic mushrooms have different appearances. When handled or damaged, many but not all psilocybin-containing mushroom species bruise blue. Blue discoloration may also be visible at the stem base.
The principal hallucinogenic ingredient in magic mushrooms, psilocin, has a striking resemblance to serotonin and is found in the phosphate ester psilocybin, which is found in the genus Psilocybe. The 5HT2A receptors in our brains are highly sensitive to the serotonin agonist psilocybin.
How Do Magic Mushrooms Work?
The prefrontal cortex of the brain, which controls abstract thought and thought analysis as well as having a significant impact on mood and perception, is impacted by magic mushrooms.
Many people talk about hearing sounds or seeing colours. One of the first studies conducted in 2014 linked this impact to how psilocybin changes communication between brain networks.
David Nutt, a neurologist at Imperial College London, discovered modifications in the brain activity patterns of psilocybin users in his 2012 study on the drug. While some regions of the brain were amplified, others were muffled, including one that is thought to be important for sustaining our sense of self.
The effects of psilocybin on individuals suffering from depression and anxiety connected to facing death have been studied in two controlled clinical trials, and the results point to the possibility that a single dose of the drug may one day be an effective treatment for both conditions.
As further studies are conducted on this magical species of fungi, we are sure that more of its amazing benefits will continue to be discovered. Have a safe and happy trip!